pine col pix

Firewise Day May 18 in Pine appears to have drawn the largest crowd and most presenters ever. New to the festival this year was two rescue helicopters. Their crews explained the challenges of a successful rescue and strategies to rely on during emergencies.

The traditional presentation of colors by Boy Scout Troop 7354 prior to the Memorial Day Arts and Crafts Festivals is to many a symbol of patriotism and respect that might today be found only in small town America.

In fact, Chuck Ackerman, president of the Mountain Village Foundation that hosts the festival opening pancake breakfasts says, “No matter how many times I see them present the colors, I’m always touched and proud of their commitment to our community and country.”

Shepherd of the Pines Lutheran Church in Payson sponsors the troop.

The pancake breakfast is MVF’s first fundraiser of the year. All proceeds from it and follow up events benefit local children, low-income seniors, the disabled and families struggling to make ends meet.

The past year, MVF purchased Christmas gifts for 70 needy children, supported extracurricular activities at Pine Strawberry School and help fund Isabelle Hunt Memorial Library, the Pine-Strawberry Firefighters Association and Pine Strawberry Fuel Reduction programs.

On occasion, the MVF has provided one-time emergency help paying utility bills of families in financial difficulties.

Although the festival itself doesn’t tip off until 8 a.m., Saturday, May 25 and Sunday, May 26, MVF volunteers begin dishing out the scrumptious breakfasts at 7 a.m. and continue until 10 a.m.

The menu includes lip-smacking pancakes, sausage, coffee and orange juice “served with generous helping of fun and small-town friendliness by volunteers,” says MVF spokesman Pat Impiccini.

No worries this year

At this time a year ago, Catherine Hurla and her fellow members of the Pine-Strawberry Arts and Crafts Guild were fretting that the closure of the Tonto National Forest due to extreme fire danger would significantly impact attendance at the annual Memorial Day Festival.

Since attendance records are not kept, it’s difficult to tell if numbers were down, but festival organizers are not worrying about fire dangers this year since the Rim Country enjoyed one of the wettest winters and springs on record.

The 39th festival is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, May 25 and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, May 26 at the cultural center in the middle of Pine.

Since festival weather conditions are now almost ideal, Hurla is expecting a good turnout of locals and flatlanders alike.

As usual, visitors from the Valley could arrive fleeing the searing desert heat looking for cooler respites.

Activities include live music, a myriad of juried vendor booths and a boutique to admire the guild members’ work.

Most importantly, all money earned benefits worthy causes in Pine and Strawberry. Most years the guild donates $8,000-plus, which includes bequeaths to the Pine-Strawberry Food Bank, Isabelle Hunt Memorial Library, Pine-Strawberry School, Mountain Village Foundation, Meals on Wheels, Tonto Rim Search and Rescue, Pine-Strawberry Fire Association, Pine Strawberry Fuel Reduction and others.

Cases closed

The drama and saga of the criminal cases against Mike Greer and Becky Sigeti have ended with Greer receiving 2.25 years and Sigeti six years in prison.

Both were found guilty of felony charges, including theft, against the Pine-Strawberry Water Improvement District.

Even sadder is that former Pine-Strawberry Water Improvement District chairman Tom Weeks died Oct. 28, 2018 and wasn’t around to see justice finally served.

From personal conversations with Tom, this scribe knows Greer and Sigeti’s crimes troubled him greatly because they eroded confidence in the water utility he had worked so hard to found and keep solvent.

Today, thanks in part to Tom’s perseverance and character, the district is finally serving its customers well and has become a valuable asset to Pine-Strawberry.

Benefit in Strawberry

Bandits Dirty Cowboy Saloon in Strawberry is hosting a benefit for Cody Newman who was shot multiple times May 7 in a confrontation at the Giant service station on South Beeline in Payson.

The benefit begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 22 and includes an auction, raffle, corn hole games, live music, 50/50 lunch and an off-road raffle run all for a $20 donation.

Newman, of Payson, is married and has three young children.

The man who allegedly fired the shots, 35-year-old Samuel McDonnell, has been charged with attempted homicide and two counts of aggravated assault.

For more information about the benefit, call 928-363-4975.

Da Bears

Those pesky bears remain on the prowl in Pine Creek Canyon.

Last week a Portals III homeowner’s security camera caught a bear dawdling nearby most likely in search of food.

None of the bears sighted have been aggressive and all retreated when seen.

However, residents should remove all possible food sources including scraps in garbage cans, bird feeders and pet food.

Thought for the week

“The love of one’s country is a splendid thing. But why should love stop at the border?”

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